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November 04, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-11-04

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The Michigan Doily

Tuesday, November 4, 1980

Page 5

Faculty artists join
'U' Music Society


November 2nd marked the first
faculty artists concert ever to be
held in conjunction with the
University Musical Society at
Rackham Auditorium. Said an
excited Gail Rector, "This is the
first time the University Musical
Society has ever presented
anything in connection with the
School of Music. Usually, we
present the professionals on tour
and so on, but today we're
presenting the local faculty free
to all our series subscribers."
Unfortunately, instead of con-
sisting of hoards of unenlightened
subscribers, the audience looked
like Old Home Week at the School
of Music.
First on the program was
Leslie Guinn, baritone, accom-
panied by pianist Charles Fisher,
His selections consisted of four
songs by Stephen Foster and two
by Aaron Copland, nothing
operatic here. The well-known
"Beautiful Dreamer" and the
not-so-well-known "Gentle An-
nie," both by Foster, were
poignant ballads that displayed
Mr. Guinn's fine voice to perfec-
tion. The rollicking, humorous
"There Are Plenty of Fish in the
Sea," also by Foster, told the
whimsical tale of an unmarried
woman's plight. Appropo to the
season, Copland's "The Dodger,"
a song dealing with the fickleness
of political candidates, was sung.
Finishing Mr. Guinn's solo
segment was Copland's "I
Bought Me a Cat," a song of the
"kiddie learns animal sounds"
program was concluded with
Francis Poulenc's "La Bal
masque," a secular cantata for
solo voice and chamber or-
chestra. The text was taken from.

poetry by Max Jacobs intended to
depict some rather grotesque
events. Here, Mr. Guinn was im-
plemented by some outstanding
School of Music faculty members
to make a very complimentary
combination of orchestra and
voice. Especially interesting
were the "Intermezzo," which
had an alternation of romantic
and martial themes, and the
tango-like "Caprice."
The second half of the concert
was concerned with the produc-
tion of only one piece, Igor
Stravinsky's "Histoire du
Soldat." The story had a familiar
theme, the loss of a man's soul to
the devil and the man's efforts to
regain it.
A rather elaborate combination
of medias was used for this
piece-orchestra, dancers,
(faculty from the School of Dan-
ce), and actors. The main
problem with this piece seemed
to be length, because however
well it was performed-and it
was performed very well-it is
still too long and repetitive to
hold one's complete attention
throughout. Thererwastoc-
casional relief from the
monotony, but its general aura
of tedium was persuasive.
Despite this, it was a worthwhile
piece with an abundance of un-
derlying meaning and innuendo.
This concert was definitely
worthy of production by the
Musical Society; in fact, much
more worthy than some of their
more smoothly professional ef-
forts. The faculty concerts make
a nice addition to the regular
season and it seems warranted
that the Musical Society and the
School of Music finally have a
tangible link as well as their
many intangible ones.

PROLOGUE. Ibelieve in laying m
it on the line with my readers. This h
is a review of the movie Hopscot- b
ch. See, I went to the State Theatre m
to review a film. I could have chosen s
Oh God, Book II, but remembered
how I usually hate sequels-I was m
afraid my Christian friends andm
readers would be insulted ifI said s
God's second book isn't as good as H
his first. I could have reviewed The 10
First Deadly Sin, but I had read a
its, reviews. I would have liked to a
review The Elephant Man, but f
I'm not Christopher Potter or Owen c
Gleiberman or Dennis Harvey and I hi
have to pay my dues first. So, this is t
a review of Hopscotch. QED. t
Hopscotch is Walter Matthau's movie b
all the way. In House Calls, Glenda a
Jackson was of the Matthau-Jackson
combination; here she is hardly % of ti
the team. Hopscotch is the story of a m
CIA veteran (Walter Matthau) who is t
used to playing the spy game his way. p
But a new boss (Ned Beatty), who t
allows, little room for personal style, c
takes over. He tries to demote Mat- o
thau-who won't be demoted, since he a
quits. Matthau destroys his own file and v
shacks up in Europe with a former spy d
and lover (Glenda Jackson). Here he a
gets the idea to publish classified ,
secrets. He sends out one chapter at a M
time to all the top spy agencies in the fr
world and greatly embarrasses the CIA a
and the KGB. His replacement and ad- B
mirer (Sam Waterston) tries to I
track him down, along with many h
others on his case. Now begins the s
merry, cross-continental game of hop- s
scotch. Matthau uses all the tricks he t
learned in his many years, with his w
trackers always a few steps behind. c
make or break this movie. Luckily, he h
makes it. lie is fun to watch: putting on n
fake accents, humming along with
Mozart, pouting at Glenda Jackson, s
whatever. Matthau has carved out a r
niche for himself in comedy movies, e

adthe niches carved on his face only
make him funnier and more lovable. He
has a face which one can settle down in
nd relax for 100 minutes or so. It has "
been said his face is like an old baseball
mitt-and which is preferable, a new
tiff mitt or an old reliable one?
Mostly because of Matthau, and a
moderately good script, Hopscotch
manages to be one of the few pleasant
omedies released this year. When I
ay pleasant, I mean in the post-Animal y
House, strident, inane, hyperkinetic,
oud era of comedy, it's nice to see a
movie that dares to be quiet, smooth,
and even a little stylish every now and
hen. Hopscotch successfully walks a
ine line: it's serious enough so that one
an care for Matthau's plight and hope
is plots succeed, while not so serious r
hat one must pause and consider that f
he story is highly implausible. It's slow F
nough to allow the little things in it to p
e enjoyed, and fast enough so that the
action never bogs down.
Glenda Jackson doesn't'spend enough
ime with Matthau to give the film
much romantic spark; she mostly is
here to keep track of developments by
phone and be the prize awaiting Mat-
han if he succeeds. Still, she is boyishly
ute, delightfully British, adding a
verall nice touch to the film. A good
actor, Sam Waterston, is wasted but
valiantly attempts to make a weakly
rawn character amusing, plausible,
and important. If Waterston is'
"wasted," Herbert Lom (portraying
Matthau's old Russian nemesis and
riend) is kilowasted. He has little to do
nd is hardly necessary to the plot. Ned
Beatty, the new boss, is very necessary.
f it weren't for him, the movie wouldn't
ave its R rating. Every third word he
peaks is wash-out-mouth-with-
oapable, He even sometimes inserts
hese nasty words with otherwise clean
words like "unbelievable" wand "in-
redible." On the side of nepotism,
Matthau's son (who has appeared with
is daddy before) acquits himself
icely in a small role as a klutzy agent.
So, all in all, Hopscotch is not a great
hoot 'em up, spy-story chase movie, but
ather a fine, disarming, and at times
xhilarating Walter Matthau comedy.

through vehicle
'gi h * l

Glenda Jackson and Walter Matthau steal a forbidden moment of intimate
romance as, according to Avco-Embassy, "they race to avoid bullets being
fired at them by fellow CIA agents bent on preventing Matthau from
publishing an explosive book concerning agency secrets in the high-budget
picture, 'Hopscotch." According to our roving reviewer, 'Hopscotch' really
sn't as bad as all of that.
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Kids do the darndest things


to serve as

Mother's Day is one 'of that new
breed of movies for viewers who don't
think. Writer-director Charles Kauf-
man takes no care to avoid discon-
tinuities that would bother anyone
paying serious attention to the film, nor
does he give any intellectual or artistic
focus to this horrid tale of two mentally-
deficient young men and their
dominating mother, who live in a run-
down house deep in the woods of Drex-
burg, N.J. and get their kicks from kid-
napping, torturing, raping, and killing
attractive young women.
But I suppose one shouldn't expect
much more from a film that opens with
the message, "This picture contains
scenes of a violent nature." Why should
anyone worry about a logical flow of
events if they get to see decapitations,
stabbings, and stranglings in breath-
taking detail? Perhaps it is wrong of me
to be irked by the fact that it is early
morning when characters leave a house
in one scene, but late at night when they
arrive at a nearby location in a sub-
sequent one. Or to wonder how a man
can clean up and bandage a seriously
cut finger in seconds without moving.or
how campers can possibly leave a trail
of beer cans to mark their way if they
only have a six-pack to work with.
Perhaps I shouldn't be irritated by
Kaufman's attempts to scare me with
one woman's fake knife-in-the-back
trick and with make-believe assaults by
the picture's good guys; I came for
gore, and Mother's Day delivers.
INDEED, ALONG with its all-too-
realistic make-up effects, the film's
overall technical work is better than
what one normally finds in such a low-
budget picture. The night photography
is clear and believable, the editing is
fairly smooth, and the music under-
scores without, for the most part, being
obtrusive. The actors in the major
roles, though unknowns, are also
unusually competent for this type of
Mother's Day's strongest point is its
tamp humor. The brothers carry out
their sadistic rapes as ritualized
playlets with such names as "The
Kojak" and "The Shirley Temple." One
hrnther acts. the other takre

states, beaming proudly. And the film
opens at a seminar of Ernie's Growth
Opportunity or EGO, a marvelous
parody of est (though it bears no
relation to the rest of the film), at which
Ernie himself spouts high-flung
maxims in a thick Brooklyneese, this
effectively implying a hypocrisy on the
part of Mr. Erhard, a discrepancy bet-
ween the group's philosophy and his
own actions.
HOWEVER, Mother's Day also has
some serious drama-or at least some
feeble attempts at it-and this drama is
poorly integrated with the humor. The
film alternates between an exposition
of the emotional ties among three
women and the outrageous antics of a
pair of homicidal cretins with the
finesse of a chain saw (which, by the
way, is one of the few weapons not used
in the film-an oversight, I'm sure).
This imbalance contributes to
making the movie's final ultraviolent
sequence, in which two of the brothers'
near-victims go on a rampage to
avenge a friend's death, particularly
disturbing. In what is apparently one of
the film's most serious parts, these two
women, believably portrayed until now
as relatively intelligent, sensitive, em-
pathetic characters, amazingly decide
not to go to the police for help, but to

take care of the men themselves. We
are supposed to view this incredible
brutality that follows, then, as
somewhat justified, as what people like
ourselves might do in this situation.
One man gets away with being axed in
the groin. His brother is force-fed
Drano, smashed over the head with a
plugged-in television, and finally car-
ved up with an. electric carving knife.
Mom is suffocated with a giant plastic
breast. The women go about all of these
deeds with a sadistic, sexual relish.
The implications are unsettling only
if one is still trying to make heads or
tails out of things. Brutal revenge is
justified, whether Kaufman intends it
or not. Perhaps this is what is meant by

calling them "scenes a of a violent
nature," rather than "scenes con-
taining violence."
In any case, a filmmaker can justify
using such graphic violence only if it is
necessary to fulfill some artistic pur-
pose. But Kaufman, though his gore ac-
tually sends peoplq running from the
Briarwood theatre to vomit, ultimately
appears to have no purpose here.
Mother's Day does have a recurrent
theme of dominant females, especially
dominant mothers, but it is not
developed at all. The film serves no real
end aside from fattening its producers
wallets. Its lack of any artistic thrust
results in a product that it quite distur-
bing to the thinking viewer.

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